Office of County Executive Steve McLaughlin
News Release: March 12, 2019
RENSSELAER COUNTY EXECUTIVE STEVE MCLAUGHLIN CITES ACCOMPLISHMENTS WHILE OPTIMISTICALLY LOOKING AHEAD TO FUTURE AND CONTINUED GROWTH
Zero-Tax Increase Budget, Bond Rating Upgrade, Historic Growth During 2018 Noted
Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin told county lawmakers he believes the county’s greatest days are ahead, following a strong performance by the county in 2018 and historic opportunities for economic development and job creation.
McLaughlin made the comments during a State of the County address Tuesday to members of the Rensselaer County Legislature in which he laid out several moves and proposals for county government in 2019.
“We have had past achievements that are historic and important. But I truly believe Rensselaer County’s best days are ahead. I look forward to working cooperatively with everyone interested in building a better, stronger Rensselaer county, that we can continue to take pride in as our future and our home,” said McLaughlin.
The 2019 State of the County delivered by McLaughlin noted historic economic development success like the county landing an Amazon distribution center in Schodack, which will create 800 new jobs, and expansion of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals by several hundred employees in East Greenbush.
During his first year as Executive in 2018, McLaughlin’s 2019 budget was adopted unanimously with no tax increase after his administration generated over $2 million in savings on personnel costs, purchasing modernizations and health care. The county also earned a bond rating upgrade and passage of a contract with the county’s largest employee union.
“We have been able to accomplish great things in 2018, with a unanimously adopted budget with no tax increase and the eighth consecutive budget under the tax cap; a union contract that will produce a savings and ensures continued service and efficiency; millions of dollars saved and an upgrade in the county bond rating,” said McLaughlin.
“The many successes of 2018 mean we have laid a foundation for the future and set a course for a more prosperous tomorrow. It is up to us to recognize our opportunity and our place in history. Great things await us, and I look forward to 2019 with real optimism and excitement,” he said.
McLaughlin joined county and local officials in calling for reform of state mandates, and for restoration of AIM funding cuts, funding for an expanded election calendar that carries an estimated cost to the county for $300,000, potential Medicaid reimbursement reductions, and other costs or unknowns for programs including Raise the Age, Counsel at First Appearance and expanded lead screenings.
“Like many elected officials in upstate, I remain concerned about the lack of attention and resources, and proposed reductions in funding at the county and local levels. It is a significant concern to see New York State struggling to balance budgets at a time when the national economy is strong and healthy.
McLaughlin recognized efforts to modernize and open county government, including establishment of social media accounts that now have an audience of approximately 4500, use of GPS to monitor county vehicles, an addition of WiFi in the county’s busy Department of Motor Vehicles satellite, and special events and outreach efforts by the county.
Along with those efforts, the county has demonstrated strong financial controls, and modernized and reduced costs in areas such as printing, energy and broadband, and has taken steps to reduce recurring expenses for storage by securing a potential facility.
Highlights of the 2019 State of the County:
- Announced VRM earned a 5 Star CMS rating, the highest possible rating in the federal survey, while maintaining a higher occupancy rate in 2018 than in 2017. Following retirement of Doug Cosey as administration, McLaughlin announced hiring of Art Proper as new director.
- In 2018, the county payroll decreased for the first time in several years, even as a negotiated 2 percent raise was provided.
- Welcomed the new owners of Goold Orchard in Schodack, brothers Scott and Todd Seeberger. Scott and Todd will be operating the property as Windy Hill Orchard.
- Request for Proposals have been released for construction of a new training tower at the current tower location in North Greenbush.
- Announced plans to establish a new public park on Brookview Road in Schodack on county-owned property once used by the Fort Orange Paper Company. The site includes a waterfall, access to the Moordener Kill, hiking trails and great views.
- Noted plans by Mohawk Ambulance to construct a new and expanded facility on McChesney Avenue in Brunswick. Along with the bigger facility, Mohawk will be increasing their presence in our county, from 1 to 2 ambulance in our county per shift to 6 during the day and 4 to 5 at night, primarily assigned to Rensselaer County.
- Renewed call for clean water sources for Hoosick Falls, Petersburgh and Nassau.
- A new simulator and van obtained with state grants to allow STOP-DWI to educate students at schools across the county about dangers of drunk and distracted driving.
- Announced Drive Rensco, a plan to review all county roads and rate for future repair and improvement.
For more information regarding this press release, call County Director of Operations Richard Crist, 518-270-2955 or 518-928-1920.